God's Daughters: Evangelical Women and the Power of Submission
By R. Marie Griffith
Univ. of California Press
275 pp.; $24.95, hardcover
Godly Women: Fundamentalism and Female Power
By Brenda E. Brasher
Rutgers Univ. Press
217 pp.; $48, cloth, $19, paper
The evangelical women in Brenda E. Brasher's and R. Marie Griffith's recent books are not the cookie-cutter stereotypes you are acquainted with through the media, much recent scholarship, or the musings of Andrea Dworkin. They may instead be more like the women who sit next to you in church. For it is the goal of these books to challenge the flat cliche of evangelical women as participants in their own unadulterated oppression.
These new studies argue that, contrary to popular perception, evangelical women can, as Brasher puts it, "be powerful in a religious cosmos generally conceded to be organized around their disempowerment." Or, as the subtitle of Marie Griffith's book suggests, there is power in submission.
A colleague of mine recently complained that book reviews no longer do what they are supposed to do: tell you whether or not you should read the book. In an attempt to redress her grievance, I will be blunt. You should read Marie Griffith's book. If you teach a course on women's history or American religion, you should not only read God's Daughters but add it to your syllabus immediately. If you are a pastor, you should integrate Griffith's insights about prayer into your next sermon. And if you are stumped when the next occasion for gift giving rolls around, consider this book: It is one of those rare releases from an academic press that your sister or husband will enjoy reading in the bath or curling up with at night in bed.
In God's Daughters, Griffith examines the ...1